More than 60 Manitobans were victims of investment fraud recently, as the number of fraudulent investment websites continues to grow, the Manitoba Securities Commission (MSC) said.
“Their lives are forever altered,” said Jason Roy, a senior investigator with the MSC.
An ongoing cryptocurrency investigation by the MSC, a division of the Manitoba Financial Services Agency (MFSA), found that the victims were scammed by 34 different fraudulent investment websites, all of which promote cryptocurrency or Forex (foreign exchange market) trading, according to an MFSA news release on Wednesday.
About 62 Manitobans lost a total of $710,000, with victims losing anywhere between $320 and $206,000, according to the statement.
“The individuals that are running these scams have become more sophisticated,” Roy said in a phone interview. They are “designed in order to trick you.”
Roy said the number of online fraudulent investment sites has been dramatically increasing over the last few years.
In 2022, investment fraud caused the highest levels of reported fraud victim losses, especially cryptocurrency fraud, according to the RCMP.
“There is certainly legitimate cryptocurrency … opportunities out there, but there are far more fraudulent cryptocurrency scamsters and websites popping up all the time,” Ainsley Cunningham, a spokesperson for MSC, said in a phone interview.
The scammers, who operate offshore but say they have offices in Canada, targeted their victims on social media, usually through fake news articles or fake celebrity endorsements.
They then got victims to invest a small amount of money – around $350, Cunningham said – and would show them fake profits, enticing them to invest more. Scammers also ask victims to convert their money to cryptocurrency, making the funds nearly impossible to recover.
“They really like to get people hooked in,” Cunningham said. “You’ll sort of think, ‘Wow, I’m making a lot of money here.'”
If victims try to withdraw their supposed profit, scammers will ignore or block them, or they might tell victims to invest more in order to make withdrawals.
“Once it’s gone, it’s gone,” Roy said.
Anger, embarrassment, frustration
Cunningham said it’s heartbreaking to tell people they are victims of fraud.
“It’s so hard to hear the stories. They’re very emotional conversations,” she said.
The victims ranged in age between early-20s to late-60s. Some lost money intended for their children or retirement savings, she said.
“There’s anger, there’s embarrassment, frustration. Some people, there’s a little bit of hope, thinking, ‘Well, maybe I still can get my money back.'”
Cunningham said she tells those who invested a small amount to look at it as an “expensive education.”
For others, the consequences are more serious and might even include having to return to work.
“It cost them a lot,” she said. “It’s painful to hear how it’s affecting their family life, their relationships.”
Cunningham said there’s thousands of fraudulent websites to watch out for.
“While we’re aware of these 34, we know that there’s many, many more websites out there,” she said.
Many sites will scam as many people as possible, shut down once they get caught, and then will pop up again under another site or company, Cunningham said.
The Manitoba Securities Commission is warning the public not to be fooled by scam artists who are working abroad in boiler rooms dedicated to frauding Manitobans. The commission says some victims have lost as much as $600,000.
There are a few ways to make sure an investment company is legitimate, Cunningham and Roy said.
People can visit aretheyregistered.ca, search the name of the company or individual in question, and find out whether the person or company is registered to do business in Manitoba or Canada.
Manitobans can also call MSC’s anti-fraud line to ask questions about a possible fraud or to report one.
“It’s important to recognize it, and it’s also important to report it,” Roy said.
“If we don’t know about it, you know, there’s nothing we can do. We can’t get the message out.”
Companies have been coming under increasing regulatory pressure to do more to encourage gender diversity and several leading banks are now led by women, including NatWest.
However, large financial institutions have employed few trans people in senior roles. Pips Bunce, an executive at Credit Suisse who identifies as gender fluid and has been named as an inspirational leader in the British LGBT Awards, is one of the few non-binary people to hold a senior position in the City of London.
Other financial companies have brought in policies in a bid to appear more inclusive.
Several high street banks, including NatWest, have trialled uniforms that include optional pronouns printed on badges.
The policies have provoked a backlash in some quarters. Halifax told customers last year “if you disagree with our values, you’re welcome to close your account” after some people took offence to the listing of favoured pronouns on staff badges.
In another instance of support for the trans community, PayPal froze the account of the Free Speech Union, an organisation that defends gender-critical academics and people who have lost work for expressing opinions.
However, the payments company later reversed the decision after being accused of a “orchestrated, politically motivated” ban.
Ms Tomlinson said that before she transitioned, she thought coming out as trans would end her career.
She said: “The idea of coming out of trans was terrifying, I thought it would be career suicide. I assumed it would blow up my career.
“But once I started leaning into my truth, I realised I had no other option. It was terrifying to do it first but it was also terrifying in many small ways, like going to my first big meeting or walking into a room for the first time and going through a client’s office. It was all just new and scary.”
Before setting up Saône, Ms Tomlinson, 37, founded several businesses including boutique advisory firm RWT Growth.
While she does not consider herself an “advocate” for trans people, she said she hopes her profile will encourage more trans people into the finance industry.
Ms Tomlinson said: “One of the things I really started to do was to embrace giving people the realisation that they can achieve it too, whether that’s being trans or whatever they have going on, they can be truthful to who they are.
“For me, there weren’t very many people that I saw in the community that I could look up to as role models. I want to provide some level of motivation and inspiration to people.”
Ms Tomlinson said Saône will not be marketed as a trans-led fund, adding: “I don’t like when you hear people talking about female founded funds or in my situation a trans female fund.
“I’m not interested in that because our performance should be our number one priority. It shouldn’t be about who I am.
“If we can use it to our benefit then it will maybe help normalise being trans in finance. But our number one goal is about making an impact and it’s not about me being a trans female founder.”
However, she argued that her being trans could still be a competitive advantage.
“Some founders are coming to us and saying ‘you get what we need, we can talk to you’. They understand that we realise what they’re going through, versus older white male-led businesses that can’t necessarily relate. It’s given us a competitive advantage in some ways.”
Saône invests in companies and provides advice. It specialises in funding and advising “ethical” companies and those with founders from minority backgrounds.
Ms Tomlinson currently splits her time between London and Canada, where she grew up and Saône has its main base.
The company, founded in 2022, already operates in the US and Canada. Its new London office will be used as its base to expand into Europe.
The fund manages $13m (£10.5m) at present, but is aiming to have $1bn under management by 2027.
Ms Tomlinson said: “Our goal is to help companies that are positively impacting the planet and those that are coming from underrepresented founders.”
Saône provides money to companies in several different industries, including renewable energy, battery storage, and clean water. Current investments include an e-scooter charging company and a marketplace for second hand clothing.
Ms Tomlinson said: “During my career, I had my own things to deal with obviously being trans. And as I stepped into my truth it dawned on me that I wanted to do something that was positive, rather than just making founder and leadership teams more money.
“We’re looking to back businesses that can make an impact while also making a lot of money and I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive.”
The company’s investments so far have ranged between $250,000 and $5m.
Making sure that members of the Canadian Coast Guard have the equipment they need to keep Canada’s waterways navigable and safe is a key priority for the Government of Canada. That includes the Canadian Coast Guard’s small vessels, which play a critical role in our fleet, especially in shallow coastal waters and inland lakes and rivers where larger ships cannot operate.
Today, the Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard announced a major investment to fund the completion of the renewal of the Canadian Coast Guard’s small vessels fleet.
The Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister of Public Services and Procurement also took part in the announcement from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, along with Joanne Thompson, Member of Parliament for St. John’s East and Churence Rogers, Member of Parliament for Bonavista—Burin—Trinity. The investment, valued at $2.5 billion, provides for up to 61 small vessels and the ongoing replacement of small craft, barges and work boats with new modern equipment.
This investment will help modernize the Canadian Coast Guard’s small vessel fleet, so that they can keep Canadian waterways and Canadians safe, while creating good-paying jobs across Canada.
This investment will complete the renewal of the Canadian Coast Guard’s small vessels fleet and enable the Canadian Coast Guard to acquire up to:
Six Mid-shore Multi-Mission Vessels;
One Near-Shore Fishery Research Vessel;
16 Specialty Vessels comprised of:
Two Special NavAids Vessels;
Four Special Shallow Draft Buoy Tenders
Four Inshore Science Vessels
Four Special Enforcement Vessels
Two Lake Class Vessels;
Four Air Cushion Vehicles; and
34 Cape Class Search and Rescue Lifeboats.
The procurement of these small vessels will provide opportunities for smaller shipyards and suppliers across Canada, supporting good-paying jobs in our marine industry.
The National Shipbuilding Strategy is creating jobs in Canada’s shipbuilding industry and marine sector, and providing Canadian Coast Guard members with the equipment they need to continue their important work. Under the National Shipbuilding Strategy, 16 small vessels including 14 Search and Rescue lifeboats and two Channel Survey and Sounding Vessels have been delivered to the Canadian Coast Guard.
Contracts under the National Shipbuilding Strategy are estimated to have contributed approximately $21.26 billion ($1.93 billion annually) to Canada’s gross domestic product, and created or maintained over 18,000 jobs annually between 2012 and 2022.
“This is a critical investment that will help modernize the Canadian Coast Guard’s small vessel fleet. We are making sure the Canadian Coast Guard has the equipment it needs to keep Canadians and Canada’s waterways safe, while also creating good-paying jobs across the country.”
Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“Through the National Shipbuilding Strategy, the government is providing the members of the Canadian Coast Guard with the ships they need to carry out their important work for Canadians. This significant investment also will create more jobs, generate significant economic benefits and help grow the marine industry throughout Canada.”
Helena Jaczek, Minister of Public Services and Procurement
BioScout’s technology can alert farmers that a disease is about to strike their crop. (Photo: Business Wire)
This investment will not only support the ongoing growth of BioScout within Australia, as well as facilitate their international growth — starting with their expansion into North America with offices in Saskatoon.
This investment followed BioScout’s participation in GAAP’s Navigate program in 2022, where CEO & Founder Lewis Collins and Head of Science Michelle Demers were able to spend an extended period within Canada, benefitting from GAAP’s customized programming and one-on-one concierge services. Their exploratory trip to Canada was an unbelievable success: while here they met with investors, farmers and other industry experts.
BioScout’s product can find the “unseeable” and react to disease presence weeks before it could impact the yield of your crop. Seeing real-time and pre-symptomatic disease data allows the end-user to save yield and minimize fungicide resistance. With the airborne disease tracking platform, farmers are alerted when disease is going to strike and learn what they can do about it. BioScout catches and analyzes air particles to let farmers know what is happening in their field.
“We are very excited to expand BioScout into Canada and deliver our world-first disease detection and management technologies to Canadian growers. Canada’s dynamic agricultural sector is a perfect fit for BioScout sharing our values, culture and aspirations for profitable and sustainable farming. Partnering with GAAP(Navigate) has given BioScout the opportunity to accelerate our expansion into Canada and base ourselves within the Saskatchewan community. BioScout is now working with local growers and scientists to enable our technology to best serve Canadian farmers.” Lewis Collins, CEO, BioScout.
The team at GAAP is very excited to work with BioScout and their new innovative product. GAAP sees BioScout as a huge new player in the area of disease detection and sustainable practices. By detecting diseases weeks before they start to affect your crop and yields, BioScout can help farmers across Canada and North America to reduce the use of sprays. BioScout has applications in many crops including broad acre crop production, vineyards and fruit and vegetable production.